Newly appointed Justice of Appeal Carolita Bethell was accused of soliciting a $50,000 bribe from a drug trafficker in 2001 to fix his cocaine conspiracy case, The Gallery can confirm.
While defending her controversial appointment to the Court of Appeal in August, Attorney General Carl Bethel claimed “the learned justice of appeal has never been accused of any misbehavior.”
The Gallery has learned that the 19-year-old case has come back to haunt Justice Bethell as Major now has a pending appeal against his 2003 conviction in that case.
Major, who is represented by Keod Smith, alleges that as while working as the Drug Court Magistrate, Bethell wrongfully continued his case in defiance of an order made by Supreme Court Justice John Lyons in 2002 at an application for recusal, making his conviction null and void.
Major had alleged that he could not get a fair trial before Magistrate Bethell after making the bribery claim.
As a magistrate, Bethell was bound to follow Justice Lyons’ order for recusal— and that the case be assigned to another court.
Transcripts obtained by The Gallery of the November 23, 2001 proceedings show that Major claimed in open court that the magistrate had solicited a bribe through a third party.
Major said, “Your honour, I don’t want my case to go on in this court. I don’t have a dollar to give to anyone. I don’t have $50,000 to give to you.”
He continued, “You don’t be sending your lover boy talking bout no $50,000.”
Magistrate Bethell said she would not step down from the case and ordered police to take Major into the cells at the Central Police Station.
According to the transcript she said, “I am not going to dismiss this matter in this court. But if you feel you will not have a fair trial, you can go to another court, that is a superior court and ask that it be removed.”
“I am going to put it down for continuation on February 1. And if before that date, you want to take these accusations, the filth that you have said and continued to say to this court, you are entitled to do so.”
Major did just that in an application before Justice Lyons, who described the bribery claim as “too fantastic to be genuine.”
However, Justice Lyons ordered the case moved to another court after Magistrate Bethell swore an affidavit denying the bribe claim during the recusal application.
In his decision on May 8, 2002, Justice Lyons said Magistrate Bethell became a party to the proceedings by filing the affidavit.
He found, “By so doing (or being advised to do so), the learned magistrate has directly expressed her view of the creditworthiness of Major. She cannot now go back to the bench and sit in judgment of Major on the very proceedings in issue, and where his creditworthiness is an issue.”
As a result, Justice Lyons ordered the trial to recommence before another court.
Garvin Gaskin, now the Director of Public Prosecutions, appeared for the Crown when the decision was rendered.
He also appeared as the prosecutor in the case that continued before Magistrate Bethell in defiance of the judge’s order.